Contact Science Program
The mission of Contact Science is to provide stimulating, ongoing opportunities for hands-on, personal contact and involvement with science. Our goal is to foster the excitement and adventure of science within our culture, and thereby enrich the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. The Contact Science program is designed for widespread dissemination and provides access to a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subject areas.
Contact Science creates, disseminates, and supports small-scale traveling science exhibits in public libraries. This approach to informal science education harnesses the unique community-based access provided by libraries across age groups and socioeconomic levels. It also capitalizes on an environment that nurtures contemplation and reflection as life-long learning skills. Integral to these exhibits is a main display, associated hands-on group activities, take-home experiments, and mentoring. All exhibits are provided free of charge, and will rotate through participating libraries to provide new exhibits on a regular basis.
The main display is a stand-alone, self-explanatory kiosk that tells a scientific story on a particular theme. It is designed as a focal point for the program to capture the imagination and inspire further exploration through related activities. The main display draws from successful approaches used in various science center and museum exhibits, incorporating a mix of images, artifacts, artwork, computer-based interactives, videos, and hands-on displays. Its size and layout, however, are carefully tailored to library requirements.
Associated activities, projects, and mentoring are an essential part of the total program. All activities and projects emphasize the use of readily available materials whenever possible. Specialized or unusual consumables and equipment are included as part of the exhibit package. In many cases, supporting materials include small science kits that can be checked out and circulated. Contact Science also donates selected books, in support of the exhibit theme, to the library's permanent collection.
Support for staff and community volunteers is provided through "How-To" packets supplied with the exhibit and supplemented by access to Contact Science staff via the internet, telephone, and on-site visits. Prospective host libraries will receive information on minimum requirements for hosting an exhibit, along with practical advice on start-up issues such as recruiting and training community volunteers and securing media coverage.
Updated: February 16, 2011